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Nigerian survives two days trapped underwater

SURVIVOR: Harrison Okene

AN UNDERWATER air pocket kept a Nigerian man alive for two-and-a-half days at sea after his vessel capsized in stormy weather.

Harrison Okene, 29, managed to live and tell the tale after being trapped 30m (98ft) deep underwater inside a submerged tugboat that had capsized in bad weather and sunk to the seabed, 20 miles off the Nigerian coast.

Fortunately for Okene, he was stuck in an air pocket and therefore able to breath.

There were 12 people on board the vessel, 10 bodies have so far been recovered and Okene is thought to be the sole survivor.

The lucky man, who was working as the ship’s cook, told Reuters that he could hear fish eat the bodies of his crew members.

“I was there in the water in total darkness just thinking it's the end. I kept thinking the water was going to fill up the room but it did not,” he said.

“I was so hungry but mostly so, so thirsty. The salt water took the skin off my tongue.

“I could perceive the dead bodies of my crew were nearby. I could smell them. The fish came in and began eating the bodies. I could hear the sound.”

Having spent around 60 hours in the air pocket deep below the ocean’s surface, Okene heard knocking – the noises belonged to divers sent down to investigate.

The diving company DCN said they had expected the job to be recovering bodies.

A company spokesman, Jed Chamberlain, said Okene “actually grabbed the second diver who went past him”, which gave the diver a shock.

Despite having found Okene alive, the complex process of bringing him up to the surface began, for his body needed to be decompressed to the right pressure after spending so long at such a depth.

Providing advice during the process was Christine Cridge, who told the BBC: “After a certain amount of time at pressure, nitrogen will dissolve into the tissues.

“If he'd ascended directly from 30m to the sea surface… it's likely he'd have had a cardiac arrest, or at best, serious neurological issues.”

Concluding on his miraculous survival, Okene said: “When I am at home sometimes it feels like the bed I am sleeping in is sinking. I think I'm still in the sea again. I jump up and I scream.”

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